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Recreating Replacements

Lab-grown kidney closely mimics shape and function of the organ's tissue components

30 October 2022

Recreating Replacements

Is it better to replace a broken personal treasure with a second hand substitute, or make a new one from scratch? When a person’s kidneys – very treasured possessions indeed – become damaged, a transplant can be the only solution, but spare kidneys are hard to come by. Growing new kidneys in the lab could eventually provide a reliable supply, and in the meantime create a platform for testing treatments to reduce the demand for transplants altogether. When kidneys develop in the body, they form from two component parts. One of these, the ureteric bud, has been hard to recreate, but a new approach has generated replicas from stem cells (starter cells able to develop into any other type). These simplified mimics, or organoids (pictured, with different substances coloured to highlight the processes happening within), recreate conditions of the kidney to let researchers interrogate disease development.

Written by Anthony Lewis

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BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC Laboratory of Medical Sciences until Jul 2023, it is now run independently by a dedicated team of scientists and writers. The website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biology, and its influence on medicine. The ever-growing archive of more than 4000 research images documents over a decade of progress. Explore the collection and see what you discover. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.

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